Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Pete Vasil to Become New Head Coach at Paterson Eastside
Pete Vasil, a veteran New Jersey high school boys basketball coach, will take over at Paterson Eastside in the wake of the school scandal.
Vasil, 54, will coach the Ghosts during practice Wednesday and will then coach against Wayne Hills on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Shaniqua Bacote, a former Passaic Tech and Bloomfield College player, was officially named the team’s head coach on Tuesday, but will serve as an assistant to Vasil, who is technically a volunteer coach. Vasil met Tuesday with Eastside principal Zatiti Moody and AD Gregory Cooper.
Vasil, a Worcester, Mass., native, who previously coached at Bloomfield Tech, Plainfield and Clifton and has a career record of 196-175, replaces Juan Griles, who was suspended on Monday after NJ Advance Media published an investigation revealing Griles had as many as six overseas players living with him.
“I’ve always done things the right way, I’m a high-integrity guy and I have a fondness for Paterson, having played and coached in the city,” Vasil said by phone. “We had some great games. I love the kids there.
“It’s a great challenge. You’d rather see it under other circumstances but it’s a great challenge and a great opportunity. I know I can do right by the program and the school.”
Eastside (14-3) is the No. 1 seed in the ongoing Passaic County Tournament.
The Ghosts have won the New Jersey Group 4 state title in two of the past six seasons.
“I’m going to hit the ground running,” Vasil said. “The goals are going to be the same and it’s going to be an interesting challenge because first and foremost it’s about the kids and their mindset and making sure that they understand that we’re going to keep moving in a certain direction and the goals are the same.”
Griles reportedly had six players living with him, including three of Puerto Rican descent and three Nigerians. It remains unclear exactly what will happen with those players, but Vasil said he will only play players who are deemed eligible.
Vasil last coached in 2011-12 at Bloomfield Tech and said he’s been following his son, Pete Vasil Jr’s, career at Massachusetts College. Since then, he’s also attended numerous practices, including those run by Linden coach Phil Colicchio.
Now he’s ready for a new challenge.
“I think there’s some pressure with it too and I love that,” he said, “so I want to make the most of it.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.